Cream Cheese Crackers and Cocktail Dresses

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  West Valley City, Utah  I  Friday, 23 September 2016


I went to a 60’s cocktail party the other night at my friend Emma’s house and discovered a wonderful appetizer I’d never had before!

By the time I arrived, the party was already bustling with new and interesting people I’d never met before, some people dressed up glam, cocktail-party style, and others dressed very casually.

One lady was sporting a red cocktail dress with big bows at the shoulders, a fur stole, black pumps, and carried a beaded clutch. Her black hair was held up with sparkly clips. She was also wearing a gold and pink and red necklace she got from her mother, which looks very much like one I got from my mom. (The one I broke all over the bathroom floor a few weeks ago, when I took it off, argh.)

Anyhoo, Emma wore a chic and simple black sleeveless dress with daisy necklace, and did her hair in a beehive. And the cat-eye glasses she wears every day lend a very 60’s vibe.


I didn’t have a cocktail dress, despite my best efforts at Savers and TAG’S thrift store the morning of the party, so I wore a simple black wrap shirt and long black skirt, with a necklace made of jade green and turquoise rings, a real statement piece made by my friend Marlene. I also carried a little black party purse. Nothing makes me feel more festive than carrying a little tiny purse draped over my wrist, instead of my usual ginormous tote.


At the thrift stores I found some green and black Japanese plates for myself, and a set of fabulous short-stemmed gimlet glasses to give Emma and Vivian. (Hint: If I like you, I’ll give you something new, but if I reeeeally like you, I’ll search out something vintage for you.)


Anyways, Emma and Vivian live in a cool apartment in an old 30’s or 40’s house, with great original yellow tile in the kitchen and green tile in the bathroom. The place also has many original light fixtures and a glass doorknob on the bathroom.

They had the cutest bar cart set up in their kitchen, complete with handmade recipe cards hanging on the wall above, recipes for cocktails and mocktails. Isn’t Emma a great artist?

14355037_1492461130780217_1465011141672728462_nphoto courtesy of Vivian

In the living room, on a cool mid-century modern grey Formica table, Emma and Vivian had set up a buffet of fancy European cookies, Smokies in a Crock-Pot, deviled eggs, olives, grapes, crackers, and dips.

I discovered it then, the cream cheese and red pepper jelly spread for crackers. To die for! Sweet with just the right amount of spicy, I ate more crackers than I could count, eventually parking myself on the chair closest to that end of the buffet. Cuz I’m classy like that! Ha!

Directly after the party, even though it was past midnight, I went to the closest grocery store for Ritz and Club Crackers, cream cheese and red pepper jelly, and then I went home and made even more!

I asked Vivian where she got the recipe and she didn’t remember, but thought it was from a magazine like Family Circle or Woman’s Day. After I went home I Googled it and it appears to be a fairly common recipe, possibly originating in the south.

I’d never had it before, but it was love at first bite!  Here’s the recipe, and the best part, besides the fact it’s sooo delish, is it’s super easy.


One block of Philadelphia cream cheese
Jar of red pepper jelly
Club or Ritz Crackers

Place the block of cream cheese on a platter and pour half a jar of red pepper jelly over top. Surround with crackers and place several spreaders on the platter.

If you want to spread the goodness around your party room, you could split two cream cheese blocks in half (the horizontal way, so you have thinner slabs) and pour jelly over each piece. Surround with crackers. This way you can have some dip on four different end tables and people can avoid the buffet line when they want more.

If you have time and not too many people are coming to your party, or if you  want a little treat just for yourself, you can spread the crackers yourself. A little schmear of cream cheese, followed by a half spoonful of red pepper jelly, that’s all it takes. In this case, go ahead and use a tub of cream cheese and not a block, for easier spreading.

I tried the spread on both Club Crackers and Ritz, and liked the taste best on the Club Crackers. Instead, I ended up serving the Ritz crackers with cream cheese and cucumbers, adding a dash of RealSalt over top. A dab of egg salad with a thin slice of cucumber would also be divine. Enjoy!